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Folk singer Chuan Zi plays in a tour of Folk on the Road in Changsha Nike Air Vapormax Mens Canada , Hunan Province in 2013. Photo: Courtesy of Three Month Records
Having previously enjoyed a surprise renaissance among undergraduates in China during the early 1990s, folk is back. Music lovers are rediscovering the joys of folk, thanks to a tour group that has grown from obscurity to fame over the past four years.

Folk on the Road, a once loss-making venture that puts an ensemble of folk artists on the road in China, arrives this weekend at Beijing's Poly Theatre, featuring nine performers over three days, from Friday to Sunday.

The tour coincides with an increase in folk's exposure in bars, theaters Nike Air Vapormax Womens Canada , livehouses and even on TV, through various singing contests - to the extent that some even wonder if this is another 1990s-esque "spring" for Chinese folk music.

But Lu Zhongqiang, general manager of Three Month Records, which is organizing the tour, is keen to dispel any claims that the music is truly flourishing. "Folk music in China is enriched today, but it's far from a so-called spring," Lu told the Global Times.

Increasing attention

Folk on the Road was started four years ago, when the music was not recognized widely Nike Air Vapormax Sale Canada , and thus experienced a long period of losing money in the beginning.

"We started it simply to strive for survival," Lu said bluntly about his original motivation behind the tour. "The company signed many folk-music singers and we had to make money." It was a difficult time. They continued at a loss until their 15th performance, according to Lu.

Covering the performance from four generations of singers, including Jonathan Lee from Taiwan, and Gao Xiaosong, Pu Shu, Zhou Yunpeng, Wan Xiaoli and Haomeimei from the mainland Nike Air Vapormax Shoes Canada , Folk on the Road has become an important symbol of the form, and has performed 260 concerts nationwide in the past four years.

"There's been no 'blooming' period, but folk has been blossoming mildly and continuously," Lu noted.

Now sufficiently popular, Folk on the Road doesn't need to worry about selling tickets any more; by Tuesday, it has sold over 80 percent of the weekend performance.

This increasing reputation means the venues have changed from indie bars and grungy livehouses that can house, at maximum, only a few hundred fans to big theaters offering thousands of seats.

This growth reflects a general renaissance of the market for folk music in China.

In the summer of 2013 Nike Air Vapormax Flyknit Canada , several songs, such as "Miss Dong" and "I'm Eating Fried Chicken at People's Square," became overnight sensations after being featured in talent shows, which drew national attention to low-profile folk musicians.

Singers like Zhao Lei and Haomeimei now not only produce album, but have even held their own concerts and made records. Song Dongye, the writer of "Miss Dong," has given around 100 performances since rising to fame with the single and even held a concert in Taipei.

Zhao Lei, meanwhile Nike Air Vapormax Plus Canada , who got famous through the TV talent show Song of China, has since held a bestselling 45-date, three-month tour across the whole country last year.

Spring in their step

To most Chinese audiences, though, folk still means older singers like Jonathan Lee and Lo Da Yu from Taiwan and the mainland's Gao Xiaosong and Lao Lang.

Many of their 1990s hits, including "Childhood" and "My Deskmate," remain classics to this day.

After that golden period, another wave of folk music appeared in 2001 after dozens of bands and musicians such as Wan Xiaoli Nike Air Vapormax Canada , Zhou Yunpeng and Wang Juan enjoyed another revival, to some extent, in certain urban areas.

But generally speaking, folk has remained niche, even if its development has never been stopped, with a number of famed singers sporadically enjoying soul-stirring hits.

cy driven by singing contests and their spread on the Internet," Lu said of the current peak, adding that it is also the result of a lack of creativity on the traditional Mandopop scene.

To him Nike Vapormax White Canada , the Internet now plays an important role in pushing folk music forward. "Everyone is a record company and everyone is 'we-media' on the Internet.

"So, as long as their songs are touching and unique enough, folk singers can all find their audience," Lu said.

He added that the Internet is double-edged: It can also bury some excellent works due to what he calls a magnification of "poor taste."

"In the complicated recording industry, songs that get famous through TV programs are just a small link and are not systematic," Lu pointed out. "They are just some sparks that have been exaggerated."

And not everyone benefits from the success of others. "There are a lot more excellent folk musicians still struggling just to survive, who have little platform to exhibit their talent," Lu warned.

Enriched forms

And for those nostalgic for the 1990s' folk era Nike Vapormax Black Canada , reminiscent of their youth and school life, today's music might not always seem that familiar.

Through the years, this music has grown more varied in subject matter and become inclusive, to include many kinds of musical style.

"They are experimental. Some folk songs could also be called rock music. Many are putting regional features and culture in their songs. And in content, they are deeper, more critical and thought-provoking," Lu said.

For example, Shan Ren Band Nike Vapormax Mens Canada , a band deeply rooted in the culture of Yunnan Province, is famed for combining the region's more primitive music with modern elements.

And Zhou Yunpeng, a folk singer who lost his sight during childhood, touches the "dark" side of social reality with his song "Chinese Children."

"These are good signs," Lu noted.

A musician himself and a fan of traditional Chinese opera, Lu is making efforts to incorporate elements of traditional opera in his company's output.

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